Higgins hat-trick fires ‘Nure to win at Raceview

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A Ricky Higgins hat-trick underpinned Ballynure OB’s impressive win in their final pre-season friendly.

Raceview, from the Ballymena Saturday Morning League, had home advantage at Broughshane but they had no answer to the visitors’ fire-power.

Gary Burns’ Ballymena Intermediate League champions were never behind and superior fitness told as they eased home 6-4 winners.

“This was our best attacking performance in our pre season programme,” said Burns,“ but questions have to be asked about our defensive qualities. That’s nine goals we have conceded in our last three outings, and we will have to make amends before we take on Downpatrick in the Steel & Sons Cup this weekend. They are now an Amateur Premier League team after having won Division 1A last season, so we will have to be at our best at their place, but we will be without Forsythe, Robinson and Ricky Higgins who are all suspended,” he added.

Higgins opened the scoring with a header and then Houston doubled the lead after dribbling through the middle, with a shot in to the far bottom corner.

On the half-hour the hosts pulled one back, but midfielder Andy Forsythe restored his side’s two-goal advantage when he drilled in a free-kick with a left foot shot into the top corner.

The ‘Nure defence switched off in the final five minutes of the first half, allowing Raceview to net twice to make it 3-3 at the turnaround.

All three ‘Nure substitutes were introduced for the start of the second session and within a minute they were back in front when Higgins collected from Forsythe and curled the ball well wide of the keeper.

Ten minutes later Higgins completed his treble when his shot was deflected into the net and newcomer Paul McIntyre made it the half-dozen when put clear by the industrious Forsythe.

However the home team had the final say with their fourth goal two minutes from time.

Ballynure OB: Hughes, Penny, M Leckey, Robinson, M Curlett; D Higgins, Forsythe, Duff (C), McIlroy; R Higgins, Houston. Subs: G Curlett, McIntyre, Todd, D Leckey.

n Ronnie Burns has been a prolific striker for Ballyclare and Ballynure for the past decade, but his football career has suddenly ended with the diagnosis of a cardiac problem, and his consultant has ruled out further sporting activity.